The existence of such an anti-Putin group will worry the Kremlin.
Dead end. Six months after President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is the best word to describe the situation. Russian forces, sporting their half-swastika “Z”, have made no progress in the east in recent months, but continue to murder innocent Ukrainian citizens. On Wednesday, the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, a Russian rocket attack on the small town of Chaplyne in the Dnipropetrovsk region killed 25 people and destroyed important civil infrastructure. Russian forces in the south, especially around Kherson, came under Ukrainian retaliation, not only from Ukrainian forces, eager to retake their lands from the invaders, but also from a growing number of Ukrainian partisans. This is a new development in the war and echoes the experience of the German Nazis occupying France during World War II, when large numbers of French partisans constantly harassed the invaders.
Partisan activity “behind the lines”, while extremely dangerous, is intended to absorb the attention of an occupying army and slowly bleed its capacity and morale in preparation for conventional offensives that will eventually liberate this territory. . So far, partisan resistance in Ukraine has ranged from simply posting leaflets threatening Russian soldiers to destroying transport infrastructure and equipment. Ukrainian officials confirmed last week that partisans took part in a successful strike on a Russian airbase in Crimea, destroying eight fighter jets. Just as happened in Vichy, France between 1940 and 1944, the Ukrainian partisan resistance movement spread and intensified in a wider area of Russian-occupied territory, which would force Moscow to deploy even more forces to control the land they have illegally seized, adding to Russia’s current woe: labor.
Having lost around 80,000 soldiers, according to the latest estimates, killed or seriously injured, the Russian army has proven to be far more fragile than Western experts had predicted. Significant numbers of its best soldiers have been killed, and the Kremlin is desperately trying to recruit additional fighters, many of whom are mercenaries attracted by high salaries. There are even reports that Putin is trying to recruit convicts, offering Russian prisoners commutation in exchange for fights in Ukraine. The heinous crimes committed by Russian forces already seen in Ukraine will be seen as mere warm-up if the Russian high command lets a group of convicted criminals in army uniforms run wild on the battlefield with guns and grenades. This, in a country that was once proud of the might of its armed forces, will simply be seen as an act of desperation.
Even more worrying for the Kremlin are the signs of growing partisan resistance activity in the motherland. A week ago, a car bomb killed the daughter of one of Russia’s most notorious nationalist ideologues, Alexander Dugin. There is speculation that it was a ‘false flag’ operation, and of course the Russian government immediately blamed Kyiv for the murder, saying the Ukrainians had targeted Dugin out of revenge, since he was a fanatical supporter of the idea that Moscow should place the reconquest of Ukraine at the heart of a new Russian empire. Just hours after the bomb blast, before investigators had even collected the pieces, the FSB claimed it had proof that the culprit was a Ukrainian secret agent, accompanied by his child and driving a Mini Cooper, now in Estonia 500 miles away. This claim is deeply suspect. Many remember that seven years after his assassination, the FSB has still not solved the mystery of who killed arch-critic of Putin, Boris Nemtsov, on the edge of Red Square; yet, in this case, the mystery was solved in just a few hours. Unsurprisingly, Ukraine and Estonia have both rejected this absurd Russian statement, saying it is just the latest in a very long series of Kremlin provocations.
But here’s the interesting part. Exiled former Russian MP Ilya Ponomarev claims Daria Dugin’s assassination was the work of a little-known Russian partisan resistance group called the National Republican Army, operating in Russia. Ponomarev also claims that the group has already carried out several partisan actions in Russia.
So who are the NRAs and what do they stand for? Confidential sources in Russia provided the NRA’s latest statement of intent, which translated from Russian makes for interesting reading. This is the first time it is believed to have been published.
DECLARATION OF THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL ARMY (RNA) of 21.8.22
We Russian activists, soldiers and politicians, now supporters and fighters of the National Republican Army, outlaw warmongers, thieves and oppressors of the peoples of Russia.
We declare President Putin a usurper of power and a war criminal who amended the Constitution, started a fratricidal war between the Slavic peoples and sent Russian soldiers to certain and senseless death.
Poverty and coffins for some, palaces for others, the essence of his policy.
We believe that disenfranchised people have the right to rebel against tyrants.
Putin will be deposed and destroyed by us.
Our goal is to stop the destruction of Russia and its neighbors, to stop the activities of a handful of Kremlin businessmen who have sucked the wealth of the people and are now committing crimes against inside and outside the country.
We declare officials of the Government of the Russian Federation and regional administrations accomplices of the usurper – those who will not resign from their powers will be destroyed by us.
We announce businessmen who earn their money through corruption and relations with officials, traitors to the Fatherland and accomplices of the usurper. The property of those who do not repent and speak out publicly against the government and its war, and themselves, will be destroyed by us.
We declare the employees of the power structures as accomplices of the usurper. Those who do not lay down their arms and take off their suspenders will be destroyed by us.
We declare military cargo and the cargo of those who make money in the war and help it financially – legal targets that we will destroy.
We remember the bombings of houses in Russia that brought Putin to power. We know that the regime will not stop at any of the most heinous crimes, and we declare that we carry out actions only against people of this power. We will not attack civilian property and civilians themselves, and if Putin’s security forces make such provocations and attribute the victims to us, don’t believe them.
We call on the soldiers of the Russian army to stop shooting at our brothers in other countries, Georgia, Syria and others.
We call on all Russians to join our ranks and raise the white-blue-white flag of the new Russia in place of the tricolor disgraced by Putin’s government.
We call on those who are ready to fight to follow our example and overthrow this inhumane, hypocritical and anti-people regime!
We consider it unacceptable that Russians have started to be defamed all over the world because of the war crimes committed by those who have no nationality or homeland and who love only money and power.
The world is not an enemy of Russia, and Russia is not an enemy of humanity, and we will prove it with deeds.
We will give protection to all who follow our call.
Everyone who runs our program until the regime change is exempt from liability under usurper laws.
After our victory, we will immediately release all those illegally convicted by Putin’s authorities.
We will give freedom to all peoples inhabiting Russia and build a new society – a society without oligarchs, without corruption, without arbitrariness of officials and without humiliating poverty. A society in which everyone is rewarded according to their work. A society without wars or violence. A society in which the power will belong to the people, where the citizens will choose their own leaders and organize their own lives in their towns and villages. A society in which leaders cannot sacrifice human lives for their own greatness, but will think about education, medicine and scientific progress. A society in which everyone will be proud to be born on the territory of Russia and want to live there.
Long live free Russia!
Wherever you are, fight like us, fight with us, fight better than us!
Cleanse our Homeland from dirt! The victory will be ours!
Keep in touch with us through the Rospartizan telegram channel.
Although there is no independent verification, the existence of such an anti-Putin group in a country that has returned to the evils of the Stalin era will worry the Kremlin. All critics of Putin’s regime have been silenced, either by imprisonment, as in the case of Aleksey Navalny, or by assassination, like Boris Nemtsov, Alexander Litvinenko and hundreds of others. But despite relentless government propaganda, a growing number of Russians are extremely concerned about the horrors of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the negative consequences that the destruction and mass killings by his forces are having on the image of the Russia in the world. So some form of reaction such as the partisan NRA is inevitable.
Will he become a real threat to Putin’s regime? Watch this place.
John Dobson is a former British diplomat, who also worked in the office of British Prime Minister John Major between 1995 and 1998. He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Plymouth.